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5 Strategies to Find Your Voice in a Male-Dominated Workforce

Rich Johnson
Rich Johnson

Posted Sep 28, 2021

This week, we polled the women leaders in the Ignite community to understand the reasons why they held back on speaking up in the workplace. Again and again, we heard the same comments:

“I just want people to like me so I choose not to say anything.”

“I’m afraid of confrontation.”

“I don’t know how to share effectively without feeling marginalized.”

Leadership competency is often measured in part by our ability to speak up effectively. In a special Ignite workshop, we spoke with coach, consultant and entrepreneur, Kami Bond to learn a few ways to develop the skill. While much of the conversation focused on women in leadership, everyone can use these strategies to use their voice to move up in their careers – and inspire others to do the same.

Strategies to find your voice:

1. Identify your needs and build relationships. If you’re doing great work but are overlooked for a promotion, find advocates or mentors who can help other people listen. Get them on your side and make sure they know your aspirations so they can go to bat for you.

2. Be relatable and empathetic. Lead conversations with results, facts and data but know it’s OK to express challenges. When you don’t know something, admit it. When you’re scared, it’s OK to say it. Being vulnerable can be your greatest asset because it breeds connectivity with people around you.

3. Develop the confidence to be true to yourself. Commit to authenticity with yourself and with your work. Not sure what that looks like? Ask others for assessments on how you’re perceived. Also keep in mind that the foundation of confidence is preparation - do your homework and you’ll inherently come across as more authentic.

4. Take initiative and stay curious. If something doesn’t feel right, ask questions from a true place of curiosity and drive change where it’s needed.

5. Practice saying no and ask for help. “It’s better to do eight things at 100% than to do 10 things at 80%,” said Kami. While we wish differently, we can’t be good at everything. Realize when you need help and prioritize tasks to get the space you need to make conscious decisions.

Finding your voice is one of the most effective ways to raise your visibility with your peers and build trusted relationships in the workplace. How you choose to show up will have powerful implications on your career trajectory because every day you have the opportunity to make an impact.


Ignite is a learning community for early to mid-level leaders to develop the character and competency to navigate our changing world. We provide weekly virtual trainings, workshops, and conversations with experts and thought leaders along with connections to a network of inspiring peers to improve leadership abilities and team cohesion.

Rich Johnson

Rich Johnson is a leadership coach and consultant with nearly two decades of experience starting, leading and advising organizations. Rich works at the intersection of people /culture and strategy /operations to create thriving places to work. As a Principal at sr4 Partners, he works with clients ranging from high growth startups to F100 companies, training their leaders, consulting on strategy, and designing programs that facilitate inclusive and thriving cultures. Rich’s work with diversity, equity and inclusion began in 2003 as a member of his company’s diversity council, and today includes leading executive-level consulting engagements for clients as they navigate these critical and uncharted waters. Rich founded Spark Ventures in 2007, a nonprofit funding jobs, education and healthcare in marginalized communities in Africa, Latin America and the U.S. In 2017, he cofounded Ignite, a leadership development company that was acquired by sr4 Partners in 2020. He speaks, writes and in his free time loves to read, run and hang with his two dogs.

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